Only introduction & chapter one released. ….
Synopsis: Accidental Extinction
This story is based on the possibility that a virus can be altered and cause a very infectious infertility plague. It starts in early 1945, when a series of events around the world were to trigger unforeseen dangers. At Los Alamos, USA, the world's first atomic bomb was created, while Imperial Japan held several biological weapon trials in China. In both the UK and Australia, a virus was adapted to control pests such as rabbits. Finally, several parts of Earth were hit by a small disintegrating meteorite.
However, unnoticed in this same year, mankind's very existence becomes jeopardised by a sterility virus of unknown origin. By the time the virus is noticed, almost everyone had been infected, signalling mankind's slow extinction.
Yet from a bleak, doomed future in 2012, Kari Mason, a gifted genetic scientist, finally deciphers the sterility infection, but needs to locate its source back in the past in order to create a cure. There are several problems she faces to find the antidote. First, nobody knows precisely how or where the virus started. Secondly, this information can only be gained by reaching back in time, where most of the records appear lost. Finally, there are several powerful groups with vested interests that try to stop her succeeding.
Kari makes contact with the past, but due to a quirk of fate, only to 2003. With limited time, Kari must find the source and a cure for the sterility virus. Is she too late to change events that lead to the horrific future she has left? Will anybody believe her?
The World she arrives into is already driven by the consequences of half a century of rapidly decreasing human population. A World of forced pairing of 'fertiles'; a World of no retirement', where the health police control the way you live your life; a World where the few young people are removed to isolated protective communes. A World of re-colonisation to grab valuable resources – people. Desperate governments are influenced by powerful fertility cults, cloning lobbies and unscrupulous people traders.
Kari is a very determined and capable person, who knows that the world's fate may lie in her hands. But she finds that she needs help. This comes in the surprising guise of a university lecturer, a pagan doctor, a drunken playboy and a freedom fighting priest. They find their lives become intertwined in an effort to discover the source of the sterility virus and create a cure for humanity. The backgrounds of these individuals are explained as we relive how three families located around the world react and cope with these momentous changes in society as they unfold between 1945 and 2003.
Man's ingenuity has always in the past saved the day; given time. But now, time is not on our side. Having a future may be a thing of the past.
Part 1 : Converging stories; the pandemic
Chapters I - XIV pp 1 – 336
The Pandemic; 1945
The tachyon Transporter
Troubled Times; 1955
Economic Hollowing; 1970
Age Concerns; 1985
The Fertility Cult
Space Discussions; 2003
The Russian Diversion
Part 2 : The message
Chapters XV - XX pp 337 – 450
Meeting of Minds
Appendices 1 - 3 pp 451 - 459
Bala settlement, North Wales, June 2012
A group of children are happily playing , their cheerful voices ringing out over the park. A
pretty young girl runs over to the swings, whilst others were on the roundabout and
slide. Not a care in the World. Then suddenly, screams ring out. The children each begin to
rapidly grow old and die, before fading away from view, leaving a silent and empty
playground. Many houses surround the playground and park, their frontages once proud
and a possession of value. Yet now roofs' broken and deteriorating, many vandalised with
windows and doors smashed open; all with overgrown gardens. Jungles taking back what
was once a thriving town centre. House after house, street after street of abandoned houses,
with roads now choked only by weeds and small saplings growing through cracks. Stray
feral dogs and cats roam triumphant. But it is the complete silence of human sounds that is
most striking. A complete and permanent silence.
Kari Mason awoke with a start and sat up. A bead of sweat ran down her left cheek. Kari
realised she had been reliving the nightmare of what was happening to her friends, family
and to civilisation itself. Its slow death, its hopelessness.
Looking out of the window in her room, over the overgrown fields down in the valley with
abandoned dilapidated houses straddling the disused road, Kari began to relax, realising
that she was safe in the protective dome she now called home. A dome in which
she and twenty thousand other inhabitants sheltered from danger. Yet as with the rest of
mankind, the great danger was not just from outside, but to be found within. The dome's
population was ageing rapidly, dwindling in number. The sounds of children an
increasingly distant memory, due to a sterility virus which had infected mankind over half a
century before. Yet, in a few more decades there would be few people left in her
settlement, in fact in any settlement, as mankind's future was slowly fading away due to the
most guaranteed killer of them all – old age. Planning for any future appeared pointless to
most people nowadays.
Nevertheless, it was Kari's job, as one of mankind's elite microbiologists, to try and work
out a way to help mankind. Without the ability to reproduce, time made mankind's
future life meaningless. But would today be any different from any other day?
……………….. However in another place and time a baby was being born.
Convergent stories; the pandemic.
Chapter I : 'New born'
Viruses are some of the smallest and most basic life forms known to man. Yet they are also
one of the most powerful, adept and thus dangerous. The infective powers of a virus,
multiplied by its potential transmission abilities are enormous. Considering a virus can
self- replicate once every two hours, it only needs 72 hours or three days for a single virus
structure to have increased by enough times to infect every person on the planet.
There are dozens of virus families. Yet all viruses are unable to move and infect by
themselves. They all require a mode of transport or transmission vector. Some virus forms
require other creatures including birds and fish, while others use natural mechanisms such
as the wind or water. Yet, it has been with the advent of modern man, with his ability to
travel rapidly around all parts of the World, which has produced the perfect transmission
vector for a virus to spread, rapidly becoming a World-wide pandemic.
Cambridge, England 4th January 2003.
''You have a baby boy!'' I heard the midwife announce triumphantly.
For my wife, Paulette and I, the 4th January 2003 was the greatest day of our lives. Indeed,
it was a day for all to celebrate. Later on, I was to realise that this period in time was also to
become one of the most influential months in the history of mankind for several other
Paulette had been gripping my hand tightly for what seemed an eternity. As she pealed it
away, the sensation of pins and needles flowed through my limb as the blood reached my hand
again. There were beads of perspiration running down Paulette's cheeks, while tears were
running down mine. What had seemed an in impossible dream had been fulfilled. I looked
up at the baby in the doctor's hands and then at Paulette, into her eyes, those eyes I had
woken up next to for the past 10 years. She smiled. The baby started to cry.
Although Paulette was 32 years old, she was a mere youngster in today's world. She
worked in an old peoples home as a physiotherapist, as was very common nowadays.
I was 4 years younger than Paulette and worked as a lecturer in mathematics and ancient
languages at the local university at Cambridge. Most people called me Jack. I had always
been quiet tall and slim, which usually made people think I must be a sportsman of some
type. Yet I loved nothing better than working out crosswords, Sudoku problems and any
other brain teaser. This fascination was a hangover from my days as an army code breaker
and intelligence office, before I took up the job I have today as a university lecturer.
We were both unexceptional in our lives and how we lived. Yet there was now one thing
which made us stand out, making us locally newsworthy and unusual. We had a baby child.
Now it might appear a strange thing to be notable for. Yet in today's society, having a baby
was a rare exception, rather than the rule.
The reason for such interest towards the most fundamental of functions - that of
conceiving a baby - was due to its present day rarity. Indeed, I knew of only three other
couples that had had any children within the past five or more years. Yet, one of those
only succeeded due to the use of a controversial clone implantation therapy. As for most
other couples living at the beginning of the twenty first century, being childless was now
accepted as a biological and social norm. This was due to the rapid spread of a disease that
had become known as the Sterility Viral Infection or SVI.
Nobody knew where the virus had come from or how it started, except that it appeared
around the late 1940s. Speculation had been rife in the decades after its identification,
varying from global pollution, nuclear radiation mutation, biological weapon or the will of
Yet even worse than not knowing its origin was the fact that no cure or remedy had been
discovered. That meant having a child was special.
And now finally the waiting was now over for Paulette, and the baby was safely born. The
past six months since the hospital triumphantly confirmed to her and the local community
she was pregnant, had been a blur of activity. This included many media interviews trying
to give inspiration to other couples who also may have been told they would not be able to
conceive a child. However, what was most tedious was the repeated sessions with doctors
performing test after test to ascertain how she became pregnant, after original viral tests
had suggested otherwise.
Baby James was bright eyed and joyful from the moment he was born, contrasting with the
troubled world he had been born into. He had the dark eyes and hair from my side of the
family notably my Anglo-Indian mother, while the paleness of colour in his complexion
came from his mother's North England ancestry. Weighing in at a punchy 8lbs 15oz, was
however a surprise to everyone.
In the delivery theatre, the consultant paediatrician who had helped deliver our 'new born'
congratulated us as new parents. Breaking open some non-alcoholic Champagne for a toast,
he accompanied our newly enlarged family in an official photograph that would be
hung in the corridor of the Markam Clinic in Cambridge.
The wonderful news of our son James's birth spread rapidly. Not only were our small
extended families and a multitude of friends and colleagues soon to be smothering us with
presents and best wishes, but the local newspapers and television reporters would also be
beating a path to our cottage door on the outskirts of Cambridge. Yet little James, the
centre for all this happiness, was born into a world full of sadness, where a rapidly ageing
population determined that mankind's future looked bleak.
The internationally renown Markam Clinic for Aided Fertilisation where Paulette had given
birth, was built in the optimistic days of the early 1970s. At this time, new medical advances
still held out such high hopes of solving the growing problems from the SVI pandemic. Yet
since those days, thousands of hopeful couples had passed through its doors, most on more
than one occasion. Hopes usually dashed.
It had now become the norm for most couples not to have a traditional marriage. With the
likelihood of children gone for couples, the idea had become anachronistic. Flexible long
term partnerships were now the choice of preference by many couples, especially by those
in the fertility religious groups. These contrasted with the grand official ceremonies given
to the 'favoured fertile couples' which were the products of the Compulsory Pairing Policy
for the few fertile members of society to increase the likelihood of producing a future
generation of children. The problem was that if the virus had already impacted on your
body, as it had with all people by puberty, it was a hopeless battle to conceive a child in
Against the odds, a one-in-thousands chance the doctors had said, considering our SVI
infections, Paulette and I had conceived a baby naturally. Yet we had been visiting a
specialist called doctor Blomfeldt who had been helping us to have a baby. As a result,
today's events had been particularly pleasing for Dr Blomfeldt, once a reputed
gynaecologist, who now has been all but banished by the medical establishment, operating
from the outer run down wing of the clinic.
The reason was due to his fertility claims using less than orthodox dietary treatments,
which flew in the face of so much of the sophisticated cloning and genetics research which
now influenced the mainstream scientific medical community.
Some advances had been made in identifying the genetic causes of SVI, whilst remedies
were always thought to be 'just around the corner' -especially considering the amount of
money and attention being thrown at finding a solution. Yet major problems were
always appearing. Early cloning experiments had created babies, but were genetically very
fragile and just as susceptible to SVI as they grew up. Secondly, with everybody's genetic
make-up different, so was their sterility viral mutation. This created the impractical
situation of needing to create millions of different precise 'cures' tailored for each person
to 'cure' them of SVI. As for our gynaecologist, Dr Blomfeldt's suggestion was that a
simple dietary solution could alleviate the problem by subduing the virus temporarily. He
had appeared to have past successes, but he had little physical proof to back up his work.
Were his ideas a cruel joke to those many couples that had lost hope, or a remarkable future
insight? It had appeared to work for Paulette and I.
Later that day, I decided to return home to collect some things for Paulette and James
who were staying in the clinic as pampered guests. On my way home I switched on the car
radio to pass the time. A local Cambridge news reporter was discussing the strong medal
hopes for the British Olympic team at the forthcoming games in San Diego, the US capital.
''Our team is one of the youngest of any competing'' the reporter commented, ''with an
average age was only 43 and considering other teams average ages were over 48, it would
be a shock if we didn't win a large haul of medals.''
I considered the fact that no world records had been attained in the last Olympics, and with
the world's athletes getting older, how much longer could they keep the games going in its
The reporter was continuing to read his news script.. ''In a national story, the
Government had some good news, with the official figures for births across England last
year officially put at just over 20,000, only slightly down on the previous year. However, in
a later comment in Parliament this lunchtime, the local Government minister for social and
educational affairs admitted that this slower decline in birth numbers would still mean that
the on-going school and college closure programme would continue.''
'' Finally, on the International scene'' the news reporter noted, ''there are reports coming
into us that the border dispute within Mongolia, between the Russian Federation and
Imperial Japan is intensifying, with both nations continuing in their efforts to gain
influence over the valuable local population of the area. With their own economy's
rumoured to be in crisis, both nations continue to expand their
populated territories at any cost. The United Nations Organisation is trying to mediate
once again, with a meeting scheduled next week in Sydney, in the neutral nation of
The reporter then changed his tack. ''And after a commercial, I'll be back
to discuss the financial news of the day, and an interview with the Chancellor of the
Exchequer. I will ask him what he plans to do to counter the continued slowing of
economic growth, and why he plans to raise our taxes once more to find the crippling social
I switched the radio off. The news always lead you to the same conclusion, I considered
ruefully …... the outlook for mankind is in a sorry state.
Bala Settlement, North Wales, 4th June 2012.
Miss Kari Mason was both studious and rather withdrawn. She had an infectious smile and
laugh, although this was nowadays not so often seen when in her company. She was
wearing a white researchers coat which reached below her knees, hiding a slim yet curvy
figure, unflatteringly covered by a plain pleated skirt and open necked blouse. With a very
sharp intellect, she was well suited to the intellectual environment of the Bala research
complex where she lived and worked. What made here stand out was her young age of only
Kari suddenly jumped up excitedly from her seat where she had been working all morning,
knocking off some of the clutter that covered much of her desk. This was not a normal type
of reaction for her, but then she had not just discovered anything which could be remotely
described as normal.
She moved a pair of dark glasses off her auburn hair, pinned up from her shoulders, over
her piercing green eyes. She then looked up towards one of the offices lining the
upper rim of the research settlement's glass dome. Bright sun streamed in through the
panels of glass of the dome roof, catching her green pendant necklace she always wore
around her neck. High above her work area was a vast multi-domed protective cover for the
human settlement of Bala in north Wales. Although, rising up to 60 metres from the valley,
with a collective span of over 400metres, the upper levels of the settlement dome complex
were well hidden between two mountainsides. There were also many underground levels
were located deep within one of the mountains of Snowdonia in Wales which used to be a
major power station up to the year 2008. Kari had lived here now for four years, together
with twenty thousand mostly aged people. She was a medical researcher, an important
position within this microcosm of what remained of human society, desperately trying to
find ways to improve their fading future.
Gesturing to a colleague, Kari shouted out above her, ''I believe I've finally
deciphered the problem!'' Her shrill voice echoing through the Bala laboratory complex.
Rushing up the interconnecting stairs, Kari arrived onto the supervisory floor where doctor
George Cain was standing by the balcony rail waiting to meet her outside his room.
George, a sprightly 56, had a sharp intellect, which had enabled him to become an
internationally renown microbiologist and had until a few years ago been working for the
British Government as her World Health Representative, trying to coordinate its actions
against the SVI's impacts on human society. Since relocating to the Bala research dome, he
had been monitoring Kari's research findings relating to a series of experiments she had
been working on for the past year. His manor was sometimes rather dour, befitting
someone who had been brought up in the Scottish highlands by strict Presbyterian parents,
yet he was also greatly respected and liked by his research technicians.
''I believe I can show how the sterilisation virus works. Now we may be able at last start to
search for a cure'' Kari blurted out to George as she approached him. ''The virus appears
to attack one of our chromosomes by changing hormone levels, triggering RNA
interference to switch the ovulation gene off'' she said to him in almost disbelief at its
deadly simplicity. ''I just needed to get the temporal mutation series properly correlated. I
believe the RNA interference it creates can be reversed, given a bit more time'' she
Kari was part of a team which was trying to decipher the complex mutation sequence of the
terrible sterilisation virus. This had however alluded researchers for many years, due
to its great structural instability. Yet Kari had a remarkable ability to envisage 4D genetic
configurations, such as mutation changes of complex structures over time. It was this gift
that had enabled her to meet the challenge of pinning down the pattern of how the SVI
virus managed to mutate itself differently for each host it contacted. By doing so, a single
reversal cure rather than the need for millions of differently created individualised cures
may now be possible to defeat the SVI. She just needed to know how the viral infection
started in the first place. She would just ask her boss about that.
George Cain's eyes brightened and he ushered Kari into his office.
He buzzed his intercom. ''Could you get Chief Administrator Todd please, it is rather
important'' he intoned to his PA. After a brief silence, a somewhat hurried voice came over
the speaker, ''George, what can I do for you?'' .
''I have Kari Mason, one of our geneticists here with me. She is suggesting we have
cracked the SVI mutation sequence, so we may in theory be able to reverse its effects and
develop a cure'' the supervisor proudly, if tentatively announced.
After what seemed like an inordinately long period of time, the Chief Administrator
announced, in a surprisingly less enthusiastic manner, ''this sounds very pleasing, however
would you both come to my room so we could discuss this information further.''
Chief Administrator Todd, was the designated leader of the Bala laboratory complex and
connected settlement, housing the many research scientists and thousands of mainly elderly
people. Even at 81 he was not considered old, with any thoughts of infirmity and senility
years away, as his body retained its toned nature he had developed over the years and his
mind was considered one of the sharpest strategic forces in Britain. Yet each of these
abilities were now being put fully to the test.
At present, his was not an easy job. The lack of research success in finding a cure or at least
an ameliorative drug by any of his many laboratory researchers was demoralising enough.
However, his more immediate concern related to an unrelated matter. In late 2007, just over
four years ago, mankind had made contact with an alien race, known as The Minos. When
their small gathering of vessels had arrived in our solar system and proceeded to make
contact with Earth, it had created a major stir across the globe. Yet their intentions
appeared to be friendly, with many people believing they may be able to in some way help
benefit humanity. But after only a couple of meetings, these space visitors suddenly turned
aggressive in nature, turning from peaceful traders to violent plunder-pillagers. They
proceeded to set up a number of bases on Earth, from which they were systematically
attacking what was left of mankind. Nobody understood why after such peaceful initial
contact they changed so radically in nature. But it was to the further detriment of Mankind,
and had in a few short years led to humanity hiding behind protective domes, away from
In chief administrator Todd's office, Kari preceded to explain how she had worked out how
to unscramble 'the' problem in human genetic mutation, the first of two steps which
prevented a single cure being created to fight SVI. It had become mankind's medical Holy
Grail in the twenty first century.
''Are you sure about this Miss Mason? Chief administrator Todd questioned reassuringly
''Oh yes sir, it's all in my latest notes saved on the data sphere on my desk. A few more
weeks and I believe we could have most of a cure to solve the SVI problem. I just need to
research how the virus started back sometime in the twentieth century.'' replied Kari.
Eliciting a mild smile, which was remarkably excitable for George Cain, he added, ''She
has done some marvellous work.''
Chief administrator Todd looked at them both in a silent pensive manor for a few deliberate
seconds. Then sullenly he noted. ''Unfortunately there are several problems.'' A pause
heightened the moment. ''Firstly, the source of the SVI was never fully explained. The
studies which were undertaken in the late twentieth century investigating its origin were in
fact inconclusive. Their 'hopeful' conclusions were fabricated to appease the world's
population into believing it was a natural phenomenon, but in fact it was suspected not to
be. That is all that is known I'm afraid, so tracing the location of the original virus for a
cure is unlikely.''
He looked at Kara for a few seconds. He realised the potentially terminal problem this
caused for her research.
Todd then continued. ''A second problem is that we are unlikely to have
the few weeks you may require before our settlement is discovered and probably
destroyed by The Minos.'' Yet after a further pause he continued ''However, I will
immediately contact the Merthyr settlement 70 kilometres south of here and mention this to
their chief administrator. I know him well. He would be willing to help us. We could send
them a copy of your research.'' A smile finally broke on his face, as if he had a bigger plan
in mind than George and Kari were aiming at. ''I have been led to believe from my latest
conversations that they have almost completed their own research project. We may be able
to combine our work and collaborate.'' Kari and George looked at each other confused.
But before anything more could be discussed a warning siren suddenly went off, and they
started seeing light flashes through the room's windows coming from over in the
neighbouring valley, followed by missiles crashing into the mountains. They immediately
headed out of the office towards the main staircase which lead to a basement chamber
lower in the laboratory complex.
The Minos attacks appeared to be getting closer. There was another large flash and then a
crash. Todd glanced up through the domes outer glass structure. He could see the
communications tower at the crest of the hill overlooking the settlement tumbling down the
valley side, disintegrated by a direct hit from a Minos missile attack.
''I believe we have no time to lose'' he panted, running down the stairs. ''The Minos are
getting nearer all the time and we are in increasing danger of being overrun. With the
communications tower down we will not now be able to send your data series by comm
link.'' He went on, as they joined others of the complex approaching the lower shelter. ''I
am afraid'' a pause broke up his words as he caught his breath, ''you must now both go to
the Merthyr settlement yourselves. I'll allocate you one of our best security scouts, as he
knows the route you will be travelling''.
They entered a small dark room that acted as the Chief's operations room in the event of
the increasingly frequent emergencies. It took George a while to mentally digest what
chief administrator Todd had just suggested.
George then said enquiringly ''I heard that The Minos battle ships and troops had already
occupied the mid-welsh valleys recently, so ….'' he paused, trying not to show his
concern, ''how could we now be able to reach the Merthyr settlement safely?''.
''You have no need to worry about that at present, my scouts have been regularly using the
West Snowdon valley as shelter down to the coast'' stated the chief administrator factually.
''From there it's a short trip by boat around Pembrokeshire. At Neath, you will go up the
valley towards the settlement''. Speaking with a sense of urgency he added, ''It should be
possible in less than a day's travelling if the winds and tides are with you. But you must
make haste as we are now at risk of a full scale attack any time now here in Bala.''
Being only 31 years of age, Kari was by far the youngest member in the Bala research
complex. 'Young' people were now almost exclusively to be found in three small
'healthy' isolated communes. In the 1970s a few thousand children – pre-puberty- were
chosen or been encouraged to enter what were known as 'young persons communes', and
then remain cut off and from all adults for the rest of their lives, or otherwise risk coming
in contact with the infection which infected all post-puberty adults. The term 'young
persons commune' was now becoming a misnomer, due to the communes' longevity and
success. The original occupants were now in their thirties and had children of their own.
Kari had once lived in one of these communes up in the Lake District in a remote area of
north England. But two years ago she had decided to leave the commune's safety of her
own accord, knowing that she would automatically be infected with the sterility virus on
exposure with the out-side world. Yet her desire to leave was strong. driven by her interest
in genetic research into the sterility virus; something that necessitated her leaving to join
one of the research laboratories in London. Yet it was the attacks on British cities by The
Minos which triggered her demands to leave, as her parents had been killed in those
In the Bala research complex, Kari had been given the position of senior geneticist in
analysing the SVI organic structure. A minor, but responsible job. Yet now, she realised
that she had been catapulted into a far, far more significant position. Chief administrator
Todd at the Bala complex had impressed on her that her mission was possibly the most
important delivery of information anybody could ever make. The fate of mankind might
rest with her.
Kari and George set off only half an hour after the attacks had subsided, along with a
security scout called John Owen, a tall rugged man whose accent suggested
he came from 'the valleys' in the south of Wales. They took the northerly route out of Bala,
via the mountainous Ffestiniog pass and then quickly down the valley into the old
port of Porthmadog, a picturesque but now almost deserted settlement.
A few ragged fishermen and farmers were sitting in the entrances of their cottages. It was
still peaceful, The Minos had not yet wrecked their havoc in this isolated area.
The security scout quickly led them down through the village to the harbour and into the
old boat house on the quayside, where a small fishing smack was moored. It had obviously
been unused for sometime, as the side had peeling flakes of paint, while the ropes tying it
up were rotting due to the salty sea spray's corrosive actions.
Yet, once at sea, the boat was easy to manage and they were able to make faster progress
down the Cambrian coastline than they had hoped, benefiting from an ebbing tide and
As John Owen scanned the land's horizon and their boat carefully hugged the coastline to
keep out of sight of The Minos invaders, his eyes could see the outline of the ruins of
Pembroke town, with the empty shells of its giant oil refinery the other-side of its harbour
at Milford Haven. A once proud monument to the prospering local economy, but now quiet
and dead. John then said to himself . ''What happened to us?''
Kari looked over at him. ''What did you say?''
''I was just talking to myself. I was wondering how mankind got itself into such a hopeless
situation?'' John answered back, before continuing his thoughts out loud. ''How could the
once sophisticated and prosperous civilisation of mankind go from welcoming peaceful
space visitors, to a disorganised, pathetic series of small nations fighting against its own
extinction and an aggressive space invader? Did I miss something important back in
It had obviously been a question that had welled up in his mind many times before but he
had never had the opportunity or confidence to discuss it with anybody privy to such
classified historical records.
George Cain was the one that finally decided to try and give an answer. ''Hum. Well'' He
started, whilst appearing to clear his voice at the same time. ''I must admit that
is a very good question that everybody to this day still speculates upon, even those
involved in the negotiations with The Minos at the First Contact meetings..'' Continuing in
a softer voice, whilst gazing out towards the silhouetted ruins of Pembroke. ''I used to be
the British Government's World Health representative between 2001 and 2007. I remember
the United Nations Director General at the time once telling us about what went on in
those two contact meetings between The Minos and ourselves. He commented that the
representatives of The Minos race appeared very docile and patient at the first
meeting, eager to learn about us and possibly helping us, in return for trade. Yet a week
later at the second meeting, they were less patient and appeared more stressed and
aggressive, if you can ascribe such emotions to giant bipedal reptiles. The truth is nobody
actually could work out what happened to make the aliens change. However, it was quite
obvious what happened to the human solidarity that we had at these meetings. They rapidly
split into individual nations, each blaming and finger-pointing; each nation's concerns and
worries over their population declines coming to the fore. National fighting broke out
between them, and at the same time 'The Minos' then attacked us without warning, to get
hold of the planet's minerals.''
Kari started feeling for the pendant necklace she always wore around her neck. Her hand
then closed around the locket at its end which she knew contained the last photo of her
parents which she found in their destroyed house following an attack by The Minos several
years ago. The necklace was her mothers, and it still showed the blackened scorching it
incurred in the blast.
''I wouldn't be surprised if those aliens deliberately gave us this sterility virus to destroy
us.'' John Owen suddenly said bitterly.
Kari looked at him in surprise at such a comment. Yet she understood his anger at what
was happening to the human race. She wanted to blame someone or something as well.
Ever since the day when her parents died, she has had nightmares of death and destruction.
While awake, these visions were also never far from her thoughts.
In a voice of resigned frustration Kari decided to give an answer to John Owen's outburst.
''I very much doubt it. How could they have sent Earth-like viruses from their plant which
could have so percisely caused human sterility? Impossible. But it would be great if we
could find out how it was caused.''
This discussion continued intermittently for the next hour, as they hugged the cliffs, trying
to keep as inconspicuous as possible. The sun seemed to remain hanging in the low sky for
a long time before it finally disappeared over the horizon of the calm Irish Sea to their
west. For 15 kilometres they wound around the many coves of Pembrokeshire, avoiding the
few villages along their way. But then as they approached what used to be the coastal town
of Llanelli, John guided them inland, up a river valley and towards a series of dark
mountains, known locally as the Black Mountains, due to the dark basaltic rock they were
comprised. Leaving the boat tied onto one of the windblown oak trees which was down at
the edge of Llanelli Estuary, they started to walk high up into the valley, known as The
Vale of Neath. This is a highly picturesque area, with small villages dotted along its course.
Yet, as they rose up the valley, it was deserted and lifeless. The area had become
overgrown, with even the roads now disused. After only two hours of brisk walking, John
led them to a vantage point, an the saddle of the valley, high between two of the mountains.
Below could be heard the cascading of water from the Aberdulais Falls. Its spray and
plunge pool several hundreds of feet below obscured by the now overgrown trees and
bushes on the valley sides.
''On a clear day I used to sit here and see right across the Black Mountains to Merthyr. The
settlement's dome is now camouflaged to prevent anybody or anything from seeing the
place.'' John noted. He then stopped suddenly. ''Good grief. Look!'' He pointed towards a
hill to the south east of them. ''There are light beams over there! One of The Minos'
exploration craft must be in that neighbouring valley!'' John then said with more alarm in
his voice directly to the others. .
''How close do you think they are?'' George enquired. Suddenly alert to the threat.
''Maybe 20 kilometres south east'' answered John, adding more worryingly ''In
daylight tomorrow they may be close enough to attack the Merthyr settlement itself, we
have no time to lose in warning them.'' He started off towards the settlement at a brisk
pace, shouting behind him. ''We only have another dozen kilometres. Not long until we
get there if we hurry''.
In more of a jog than a walk, Kari and George struggled to keep up with John, who was
eager to get to the Merthyr settlement. Before long however, they were spied by two of
Merthyr's guards who then escorted them the rest of the way into the settlement dome
towards a concealed entrance. They had finally made it.
''If you would wait in here a minute, I'll notify Chief Administrator Frost that you have
arrived" said one of the guards who had been totally silent when escorting them through the
upper valley to the settlement. The guard then disappeared into a near-by office.
They entered the foyer of a vast research and settlement complex. As they looked around,
they could see the research offices covering the ground level, while the administration
areas were located around the upper sides of the building; in a similar manner to the Bala
complex. Yet unlike at Bala, only half the dome was open to light, as the Merthyr dome
was half dug into the mountains around it, giving it a distinct light and shade characteristic
A minute or two passed before they were escorted swiftly into the Chief Administrator's
office. In the middle of a large room sat a tall, bony man of indeterminate age, possibly 90,
yet could be 70 years old, thought Kari. It was getting increasingly difficult to tell people's
ages nowadays. He sported long grey hair tucked behind his ears, which also covered the
top of his light suit jacket.
Gesticulating at his intercom monitor which showed a nervous looking white-coated
supervisor, he was clearly having some heated discussion ''…. yes, I said come up here
immediately.'' Frost then turned off the screen and swung around to meet his guests,
immediately letting his eyes fall upon the youthful figure of Kari. ''Good to meet you. My
name is Frost. I am glad to see you have arrived safely,'' rising slowly from his seat and
softly, but firmly shaking hands with his new visitors.
He's probably nearer 90 years of age Kari considered after she shook hands. It is
remarkable how humans can remain so fit and alert into what was considered extreme old
age only a few decades ago, Kari thought to herself.
''If I can make a comment sir'' John Owen piped up suddenly. Frost looked at him
expectantly. ''When we were up in the valley a few hours ago, we noticed that a
Minos survey craft was approaching from the next valley''. Frost looking startled poked at
his intercom. ''Head of security'' There was a few seconds quiet.
''Hello sir, what can I do?''
'' I have just been informed of some potentially worrying news. The Minos are in
the next valley. Do we have our scouts patrolling the area to keep watch? I fear we may
have less time than I thought to prepare.''
The reply was too faint for the others to hear, but must have been satisfactory as Frost went
On. ''Good, good, use the decoy to deflect there attentions if you see fit. We need to buy as
much time as possible.''
Turning to Kari, he continued in a more relaxed tone, ''I hear you have some great news
about your SVI research Miss Mason?
Over the next minute or so, Kari briefly explained the outline of her conclusions and its
significance. "Eradication can never be done however, unless we were able to discover how
the virus was triggered in the first place back in 1945. However, as long as we have a bit
more time for creating a suppression agent, I can at least start to develop a more general
cure those with SVI.'' she concluded.
''Well, unfortunately, time is the thing that appears to be rapidly dwindling here I'm afraid
Miss Mason'' the Chief Administrator said wryly.
Then at that moment, there was a knock at the door. Two rather flustered supervisors
entered the room. ''Ah, my co-heads of gamma ray research, meet our guests from the Bala
complex'' Frost said as he introduced the two parties. They were both unremarkable in
appearance, with pristine white coats, greying hair and glasses. Yet George was taken
aback by their apparent exhausted manner.
Not at all like his researchers, he thought to him self with a touch of pride.
''I'm led to believe that your baby is up and running as of two nights ago? Frost questioned
the supervisors as they closed the door behind them, knowing full well the answer they
were to give.
''Yes sir, the prototype tachyon transporter successfully ran for the first time without any
problems last night. We can now plan for a future test with a larger object.''
Frost smiled. ''I would like you to perform a full transportation later today'' ordered Frost
at the aghast researchers.
''It's far too risky, we haven't recalibrated yet for a larger object'' both shaking their heads
''But I'm afraid The Minos could attack at any time. Both the chief administrator at the
Bala complex and myself feel it is a necessary risk to take.'' With the minimum of a pause,
he continued. ''Please show our guests around the facility. Miss Mason will give you
a data sphere so you can load it into the communication databanks.''
Kari was so tired, she had not been fully listening to the conversation, much of which she
did not understand the implications anyway, but jolted at hearing her name and just
nodded politely at the researchers.
Kari and George then followed the two supervisors down to the research offices. After a
tiresome hour in the gamma ray labs looking at an endless series of equipment adapted
from captured Minos technology, they all went up to a restroom area to sleep for the rest of
It wasn't until later that evening that Kari awoke to find the other two were already awake
and had left the room. As Kari wandered out of the rest room, she found John sitting
patiently reading a magazine. Apologetically, she said ''I'm sorry I overslept, have I kept
you waiting?''. .
''They all decided to let you sleep'' replied John.
''Why me? I wasn't any more tired than the others! I want to help, I need to explain to all
the others about my findings so they can understand it and use information in my data
sphere'' Kari continued.
John looked at her in an uneasy way ''Don't worry about that, I have been asked to take
you to chief administrator Frost only when you awoke. He wants to discuss some ideas
with you''. After Kari had gathered her thoughts, they then both set off towards the senior
officer's level in the dome.
In one of the large administration rooms, half a dozen project supervisors and several
research department heads were standing around talking avidly. As they noticed Kari and
John enter the room they quickly quietened. Then Chief Administrator Frost, located at the
front end of the room, called for silence. Each person then sat down on one of the seats
arranged neatly facing him, whilst Kari was shown to a seat at the front.
''As you are now all aware, we have brought forward the attempt for the full operation of
the tachyon transporter experiment'' Frost stated. ''After reviewing the excellent progress
with the project leaders it has now been decided that due to the increasing risks of
detection by The Minos, the transporter will undergo its first full operation later today.''
There was agitated mumbling from the learned audience.
Kari glanced over at George and John at the far end of the front row she also occupied,
looking a bit lost with the unfolding events. Frost continued ''With the recent additional
news that The Minos are now in the next valley and quickly approaching our position, their
survey craft are likely to locate us any day. The equipment is very fragile and any major
damage will risk jeopardising the whole experiment. We cannot let that happen.'' Frost
cleared his throat nervously. '' For your information, we are already in the initiation
process of recalibrating the tachyon receptor to allow us to attempt the transportation in a
With this last pronouncement, there were several deep intakes of breath from around the
room, together with some concerned remarks. ''It's still too risky for a full test! …… we
have no proof of success! …… can we transmit such a delicate object?'' rose from several
scientists in the audience.
Frost started talking again, silencing all dissension. ''Many of your concerns are indeed
logical. But our early tests have been successful and had no discernible problems. Therefore,
we will not just send the data sphere back in time and hope by chance that it falls into the
right hands to be understood and acted upon correctly.'' He paused for effect before
continuing, ''Instead we will transport a person.''
This set off an even more animated series of concerns within the room. ''Please, please, I
can elaborate'' shouted Frost, sensing the rebellious nature of the audience. ''We have
amongst us a woman from the Bala settlement who has single handed unravelled the SVI
problem. She is also an expert in late twentieth century culture. May I introduce you to
Miss Kari Mason.''
Kari was gestured to stand, and she became very aware that all eyes were turned
questioningly towards her.
Her situation became clear when Frost once again took command. Beckoning Kari to sit,
he turned to the audience. ''We therefore need a young fit person with some knowledge of
past events to act as a 'go-between' to pass on the knowledge we now have of the SVI
disease and its consequences. We need someone who would be able to warn and galvanise
people to prepare themselves in time for what will be some terrible events ahead.''
With some horror, Kari realised that she was the only one that fitted those criteria. She was
effectively being forced to volunteer for this unknown and apparently dangerous task. But
to be transported where and how?
Cambridge, England 5th January 2003. .
Paulette, James and I spent our first night as a family together in one of the clinic's family
rooms. James's occasional cries in the night were the exception rather than the rule,
although I could hear another set of parents having what sounded like a tougher time of it.
Unusually, there were two other families in the clinic that night with their new babies,
rather than the normal one or two, resulting in the rare, almost refreshing sounds of
gurgling, crying and mumbling coming from down the corridor.
The first night was a long one for me, as Paulette was still recovering from the birth of
James. In fact, she started having some problems early on that night, which the consultant
diagnosed as a kidney disorder. I fumbled my way through changing James' nappies and
giving him a regular feed every four hours or so.
The next day, Paulette appeared to be 'on the up' and was sitting up in bed holding James.
As I sat by her bedside, with James asleep in her arms, we chatted with relieved smiles at
the past few years efforts and tribulations we had been through to have a child. It had been
the heartache and sense of unfulfilment with our married life that had brought things to a
crescendo a year before, forcing us to try several pseudo-medical ideas in case they might
help in conceiving, overcoming the sterility virus effects we both had. It was a path many
were forced into. We had both grown up in the 1970s and 1980s; a time of shifting morality
and social demands. The past overlying religious purpose of marriage was being removed
as the bearing of children was so rare. Today's society was slowly falling apart around us,
with marriage passé, society's vibrancy fading and social cohesion undermined by its
''You need a break'' Paulette said quietly. ''You have been an angel in looking afer me
and James over the past 24 hours. Have a rest at home for a few hours.''
A Smile registered on her face. I could see she was asking me to give her some space and
perhaps a break from the hospital to freshen up.
''That's a nice idea.'' I responded, lingering over her bed a few seconds longer than I
needed. ''I'll be back later on today''.
As I slowly got up to go, Paulette then added. ''And whilst you are there, could you start to
sort out the cottage for us. We should be coming home soon and we wouldn't want
anybody to see it in a mess''. I then saw here laugh gently for the first time in weeks.
With the help of a nurse, Paulette was able to look after James through the morning,
allowing me to go back to our cottage and prepare things for our arrival back. A spare room
had now been turned into a small nursery, although it was still looking a bit bare. Kitting
out a new baby and a nursery was not the easiest of tasks in 2003, as the rarity of 'new-
borns' led to there being very few childrens' shops in town. Many things had to be pre-
ordered from catalogues to be made especially, so they were expensive. Yet the free
introductory promotions given to us by the children's catalogues would help us over the
first few weeks.
Indeed, over the past few weeks a new 'cottage industry' had started in the front rooms of
our respective parents and relatives, as they busied themselves knitting baby gloves, hats,
vests and anything else that they could think of. I did my bit by visiting the local DIY
stores and with some bits of wood doweling, made an overhead frame for the cot to hang
small toys for James to play with.
One major concern of ours eventually turned out to be more easily solved than we had first
feared. That of hiring an au-pair. We had discussed this a lot before Paulette went into the
clinic. Neither of us had much idea how to go about getting someone that had any
experience of looking after babies. There were an abundance of old age carers. It had been
the growth industry of the 1980s and 90s. But how to go about getting a baby minder? In
the end I had put an advert in 'Mature Times', one of the many popular old age carer
magazines, just before I took Paulette into the clinic.
By the time I returned to the cottage a few days later I found a pile of enquiries about the
position in my post and on my answer phone. Obviously the chance to look after a baby
must have brought out the maternal instinct in so many wannabe mothers. That day I
contacted a couple of likely candidates and arranged to meet them later that day.
Back at the clinic that evening I updated Paulette on my day's trials and tribulations. I got
her blessing to take on a local woman called Sonya, who was in her late 60s and had
unusually raised a child of her own back in the mid 1970s. She was presently working in
one of the many private nursing home complexes springing up in Cambridge.
As the effects of the prescribed drugs wore off, Paulette started to feel poorly again, so she
slept for the rest of that day. That night was a little easier for everyone. I even got into more
of a routine with James' nappy changing and feeding.
The next morning, however, Paulette unfortunately had a relapse. Although we had
been due to leave the clinic that day, she was ordered to stay for further observation and
I looked after baby James, which entailed mainly feeding and rocking to sleep every few
hours. Then at around midday I suddenly heard an alarm signal coming from Paulette's
bedside. At the same time the ward sister rushed into the room.
''What is going on'' I whispered a question to the passing nurse, so as not to wake James.
However she did not answer and kept on running towards the bed. Within seconds a doctor
and ward sister had arrived and together they were desperately trying to resuscitate
Paulette, whos heart had stopped. After two attempts at revival, and with the arrival of an
orderly, she was swiftly whisked out of the room, bed, drips and all.
I stood in confusion and shock as to what was happening. Just at that point, one of the
nurses came up to me, putting her hand on my shoulder. ''I am afraid your wife had just
suffered an acute pulmonary failure. She has been taken to the emergency surgery in the
other hospital wing.
As I sat outside the operating room, it seemed an interminable wait, while the surgeons
worked away desperate to save Paulette.
Gradually, the gravity of the situation dawned upon me, I began to focus more and more on
James and my surroundings. I found myself being consumed with frustration and
hopelessness towards my situation.
One of the operating doctors appeared from the theatre, still masked. I stood up
expectantly. Yet I didn't need to see anything but his demeana to indicate to me how
He then pulled down his mask from his face. Looked at James and then at me, before
quietly noting. ''I'm really sorry Jack. She died almost instantly from the attack. There was
nothing we could do for her situation.''
I stood there still, staring at the floor and then at James. I thought, what sort of life will he
have in today's world? I was numb. Not by the pain of the situation I felt, but by the shear
panic that was overtaking me. The fears of bringing up a child on my own and the knowing
that I could never find a friend and lover like Paulette in my life. She had been my rock.
How could I trust anyone else in my life with my feelings!
I stood there still, staring at the floor and then at James. I thought, ''what sort of life will he
have in today's world?
I was driven back to our cottage with James. I remained in a numbed daze all of that day.
The house was all of a sudden alien – it's feel changed by the absence of one person and
the arrival of another. I could not understand the logic of a world, which could gain
something so very delightful on one day, but then lose something invaluable the next.
A post mortem was ordered to see if the complications were personal or genetically
triggered by the SVI disease. A torrid few days followed. It was a tough time for everyone,
even when I had the joy of baby James.
Maternity leave was almost unheard of in 2003. Paternity leave was unique. Yet I was
determined to take some time away from my university work and its undergraduates. I
looked forward to spending my time with James, and with the help of Sonya, we should get
by, enabling me to sort out my life and regain a quieter existence. Or so I thought.
But I wasn't to know that any thought of a sedate life would be ruined within a few days.